Disturbing footage has come to light that apparently shows a Jehovah’s Witness with a criminal record for sexually assaulting a child, engaged in the door to door preaching work.
The footage was posted on YouTube today, and shows a man answering to the name Waymon Chandler Ivery engaged in the door-to-door ministry as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Ivery is approached by the man holding the camera and asked to confirm his identity, which he does.
The cameraman then states that Ivery has a criminal record for the sexual abuse of a child. Ivery initially attempts to deny this, but when the accusation is repeated, Ivery and his two companions (presumably also Witnesses) get into a car and leave the scene.
You can view the footage below:
Information on Ivery’s criminal record can be found here.
We are tracking down more information on this incident and will bring you updates as soon as we have them, but why does this matter? Is it not the case that once a child rapist has served his sentence, he should be given a chance to resume his place in the community without harassment? After all, why release him from prison if we are not going to give him the chance to rebuild his life?
The answer to this is obvious, and twofold.
First, as was outlined during the Austrailian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, those who have carried out the crime of child sex abuse are at extremely high risk of re-offending.
Hence, while a released inmate should be allowed to build a new life as far as is reasonable, his freedom to do so cannot be without limits or restrictions, or come at the expense of the children in the community. There must be limits and safeguards to prevent such an individual from having opportunities to re-offend.
This brings us to the second point. Ivery was not approached while shopping for food, or watching a movie, or even strolling along a busy street minding his own business. He was approached because he was engaged in a work that involves him calling at the homes of his neighbors.
I spent almost thirty years of my life engaged in the door to door ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and can report that it is not uncommon for the door to be answered by a young child. I know that very often in this situation, the Witness will ask: “Hello. Can I speak to Mommy or Daddy please?”
Often the child would then run to get their parents, but I personally saw a handful of moments where the child replied: “They are not home.”
Of course, I would always take my leave when the child replied that way, and on one occasion the Witness I was with actually told the little boy in a kind but stern tone that they shouldn’t open the door to strangers if they were alone in the house – which, of course, is excellent advice.
But can you imagine how the scenario might have played out if the Witness on the doorstep was a predator struggling with a long-term desire to harm children?
And to make matters worse, Ivery is not a one-off example. In Australia alone over the past 50 years, there were over 1000 JW molesters who posed this specific risk who were not even reported to the authorities.
At least in the case of Ivery the authorities were aware of his past, thus the local community stood a chance of knowing that a potentially dangerous sexual predator lives in their midst – even if they are likely oblivious to the likelihood of him calling at their homes and asking to be invited in to start a bible study with their families.
The solution is obvious: Watchtower should categorically instruct its congregations that those who have been convicted of sexual offenses against children cannot under any circumstances participate in activities such as door-to-door ministry that pose a high risk of putting them in contact with unsuspecting families and children – for the sake of the convicted offender, and most importantly, for the sake of the child.
Since we originally uploaded this article, YouTube has removed the video on the grounds that it is harassment / bullying of the subject person. Whilst I understand that YouTube has an obligation to ensure as best as possible that their service is not used to abuse or harass, I maintain that the video is in the public interest due to the reasons already given in the article.
1: The individual, Waymon Chandler Ivery, is clearly the same person as the one identified one a public website as having a criminal record for sexual assault on a child. The man himself affirms that this is his name at the start of the footage and his face clearly matches the mug shot. Thus he is already the subject of a public warning to the community – for this warning to go on YouTube increases public safety rather than detracting from it.
2: Ivery was not approached when he was out shopping, or walking the street, or waiting for a bus. He was approached specifically because he was engaged in an activity that brought him into close proximity with children in their homes, very probably without the parents of those children being aware of his past.
3: Therefore this is not a case of harassment or bullying. This is a case of public attention being drawn to a religious practice that puts a convicted child abuser into close contact with children in their homes.